Did you hear about the party?

About 12,000 people came, ate and played downtown and hoped to see the ball go down and the fireworks go up
Saturday, December 31, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:28 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Art, music, magic and revelry spread throughout downtown Columbia Saturday night for the 11th annual First Night celebration. Organizers were expecting 12,000 people to attend the city’s alcohol-free community party, which was scheduled to culminate with two downtown processions to the Boone County Courthouse for a fireworks display and a midnight ball drop.

As she prepared to take the stage at Stamper Commons, on the Stephens College campus, Asha Diana of the Deva Dancers said this is the fourth time she has performed traditional belly dancing at First Night.

“It’s a lot of fun to perform at First Night,” she said, “an opportunity to share the dance with everyone.”

For others, this year was their first experience with First Night. Roy Robinson stayed warm watching his daughter Emma make a purple crown with a red feather and sparkling jewels in the children’s art area at the Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 S. Ninth St.

“We started out with the magician, but the kids got antsy,” Robinson said. “So we wandered over to a new spot.”

More than a dozen venues hosted First Night events, from Japanese drumming to alt-country and bluegrass music to puppet shows.

The ever-growing event expanded to Stephens College for the first time. Early revelers dined on chicken, roast beef and a variety of desserts at Stamper Commons, which remained open for snacks until later in the evening.

Outside Windsor Auditorium at Stephens, Janet Hicks kept tempo as her son Jordan played his drum with the City-Wide Drumline & Rhythm Band. When asked her favorite part of First Night, she replied, “The Drumline, of course. But, I’m very biased.”

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